Stress Around Early College Deadlines

By Xander Balwit ’15

As of Nov. 5, 65 percent of the seniors at Catlin Gabel have already applied to at least one college. With early deadlines on Nov. 1, and more on the Nov. 15, Catlin Gabel seniors are struggling to stay on top of homework and submit college applications.

If 65 percent sounds shockingly large, you are not alone in thinking that. College counselor Kate Grant elaborates, “Each year there has been an increase in students applying early. I mean when I first came those numbers would have been flipped around 35 percent applying early and 65 percent waiting for the regular decision.”

Grant went on to explain that the increase is partially attributed to colleges now putting more pressure on a priority deadline, but she says, “probably too many people apply early.”

When CatlinSpeak asked several students who are applying early about the process, we received mixed messages about how individuals are coping and where they are mentally.

Dylan Gaus ’15 said, “I think I am in a good spot with the college application process. Earlier in October I was under a lot of stress because I was pursuing extracurriculars outside of school, as well as school, ACT prep, and an early decision deadline for Northwestern University. However, now that the most hectic month is behind me and my common application is pretty much complete, I feel more confident and relaxed about the process.”

Part of Catlin Gabel’s dialogue about applying to college is that each college process is different, and people will all experience stress at different times.

This is evident in the response of Anayanci De Paz ’15, who is applying early decision to Reed while balancing a large class load and shadowing a researcher at OHSU. She says, “I am hoping with all my might that I get accepted into Reed! It is a bit stressful because we have so much homework and applying early decision is difficult with all the assignments. I wish we had some time off dedicated to applications because it would make the juggling easier.”

The seniors are mostly in agreement on how they are balancing their busy lives.

A senior deals with a heavy class load and college applications (Photo: Xander Balwit '15)

A senior deals with a heavy class load and college applications (Photo: Xander Balwit ’15)

Brendan Attey ’15 says, “I basically just accepted that I would not have much free time during the first two months of the year. I told myself that if I just made apps and schoolwork my focus at the beginning, I would have the rest of the year to do the things I wanted to.”

Attey is echoed by Gaus, who agrees: “I would say that I am balancing my work as best as I can, but there are only so many hours in the day, so you have to prioritize and in some cases sacrifice what you want for what you need.”

When asked what advice they would give to future seniors, they all had something to share.

Attey suggests, “I would tell future seniors to get started on the process as soon as possible. The sooner you can finish up and send your apps, the better. I am pretty excited right now, because as a senior, I have somewhat learned how to handle Catlin’s workload, and now I don’t have to worry about outside work as well. I think this will be the most free time I have had in a while, and that wouldn’t be true if I still have a couple more weeks in front of me working on college stuff.”

Gaus advices rising seniors, “Know that this is harder than junior year. Junior year has more schoolwork, but college apps on top of school is a whole other animal. I recommend starting the common app in summer so that you are already prepared entering the school year. Finally, just keep your eyes on the prize and try not to stress over it too much. Remember that whatever school you end up going to is going to love you, and if any school doesn’t accept you, then you didn’t want to go there anyway because they don’t value your talents.”

Finally De Paz recommends, “I think they should at least know which colleges they want to apply to before school starts. This would save so much time because you are not debating about which colleges to prioritize.”

Grant has seen students go through the stress every year and she reminds them: “Everybody gets into a college and there will be a college that is a match for you.” She also implores students to remember that “who you are is much more important than where you go to school.”